Posts tagged: remote

Multi-function Dock and FM transmitter that doesn’t suck!

By , February 23, 2012 10:53 pm

I’ve been trying to find a way to get my iPhone, iPod, Nano, etc. to play in my cars without having to replace or hardwire some new deck into the car permanently. I’ve also tried all kinds of things like tape deck adapters and FM transmitters. They all mostly suck big-time. Recently I wanted to add handsfree capability to our family SUV (Volvo XC90) and discovered that it used a fiber optic based system that was ridiculously expensive to upgrade. So I went looking for another solution.

This is ridiculously cheap, but it works!

On Amazon I started reading all kins of reviews of units that basically had lukewarm to bad reviews. In this search I started thinking I could use another charger for the car that would double as a mount. You know how those web searches can become a big black hole.

Then I came across this All in One unit for the ridiculously low price of $12.69! No this is not a typo. For the price of a cable I could have a mount, charger, fm-transmitter, and a remote. It was ludicrous. Since I have Amazon Prime and the shipping was free, I figured, “what the heck”?

I also perused the reviews and there were a surprising number of good ones considering this cost less than I spent on lunch today.

So in 2 days time, good old Amazon Prime came through again and I had my unit in my hand. I snapped a picture to share with you and then started to fiddle with it. Besides the fact that this thing has more appendages than a baby in a bilirubin chamber (ok, total non-sequiter) it seemed pretty well made. The mounting was secure, all the parts fits and the cigarette lighter adapter even had some rubber protrusions to makes sure it fit tightly.

The “remote” was amusing. They tried to make it look like a ipod! I really didn’t expect it to work so well, but hey, in the next weeks the truth will come out.

My phone in the cradle with the remote to the right.
















OK, so how has it been in the past few weeks? Well, it’s a mixed bag. There are some goofy things, but also a surprising number of good things to report.  So let’s get to the deets.


  • The FM transmitter actually works! I get a light static, but other than that the music is clear and the GPS voice directions are fine! I am amazed. It’s so much better than the half a dozen other FM transmitters I have tried.
  • I can use it as a speakerphone for handsfree! This solves a world of problems for me. This is much better than a bluetooth headset or my Jabra clipped to the visor.
  • It charges the phone, but a little slowly. Actually, if I am running the GPS, it charges it TOO slowly. Sometimes the battery level goes down after a trip with the charger plugged in.
  • The crazy little remote actually works! It’s IR so you have to point it at the top of the unit, but it does work.
  • The stalk is bendable and stay put.
  • The phone mount is very solid and holds the phone securely.
  • There’s an additional USB port on the side to charge another device.


  • The GPS seems to get confused and loses the signal at times. This may have to do with the fact that my mount is on the center console so the phone doesn’t have a clear view of the sky. It is annoying as I lose the signal a lot more than when I had it mounted higher up on the dash with the vent mount.
  • Although the lighter adapter is tight, The weight of the unit caused the entire lighter assembly to wiggle around.
  • The FM frequency is on top of the unit, covered by the iPhone. It’s a pain to see the station if you need to change it in route.
  • The charger is weak.
  • For some reason my iPod touch will not transmit via FM if I plug in the main charger. I can use the USB port charger on the side without issue.
  • It a bit janky with all the cables coming out of it.


The bottom line is that for $12.69, this is a total steal. Consider that Apple charges $19.95 for the cable alone and it’s no comparison. In Summary, this is worth a try for the price. It ain’t pretty, but it’s functional.

iPhone as a Home Theater Controller!

By , March 8, 2011 11:11 pm

For many years I have searched for the ultimate ease of use in a Home Theater. You know what I mean! I’ll bet there are 3-7+ remotes lying about on your coffee table and that your significant other and kids can’t figure out how to put on a movie to watch! I have tried all kinds of solutions and the best thus far was a Logitech Harmony Remote. It still required scads of programming, but at least it worked pretty well with most components. It was my defacto system for several years. But these remotes have upwards of 50 buttons and can still be a bit daunting.


A new kind of A/V receiver

Then I came across a Yamaha NEOHD. What a fascinating piece of kit! It is a very non-traditional a/v receiver in that it includes Wifi, can support an iPod, and has NO UI at all by itself. The remote is even more odd with it’s paltry buttons. According to Yamaha, everything plugs into this one slimline box and it becomes the central control for everything. Hmm, that got me thinking and reading more about it.

I mentioned this to an old friend and she thought it would be cool for both of us to get one if I would help her figure it out. Basically I get to be the tester for this unit and find all the warts before she had to commit. Well, I am a sucker for new cool technology.


However, one thing put me WAY over the edge. Not only can you control this thing with it’s ultra simple remote, but get this. You can use your iPhone! Almost all the functions of your system can be controlled from an iPhone app. Can’t find the remote, whip out your iPhone. Listen to the radio (streamed from the internet) and then shut it off as you walk out the door with your phone! How cool is that. Here’s a few shots of the UI.

The activity based menu is the main screen

Is that crazy or what? You can choose to Watch and then choose your cable box, Blu-Ray player, streaming Roku box, whatever. The Play will hook you to your Xbox and Wii, then the Listen gives you FM, Internet, and iPod!

Now the control is not just high level control. Check out this shot of the Blu-Ray player screen.

All major and minor controls in tiny buttons

You can basically control anything in your components from your iPhone. How this works is that there are little IR blasters that come out of the back of the NEO unit and then you have to place the blasters over the sensors in your components. The NEO knows the codes you need and will send them to the proper components.

So does it all work? Yes, but not without a few hours of frustration. As it turns out, it’s not so easy to figure out where the IR sensors are in your components. They are all “dark” so as not to disturb the styling. The trick is to use a very powerful flashlight and search along the perimeter of your devices for a break. It’s not always easy. Until I found the right locations, nothing worked because the signals were not being transmitted to the right place. It was a bit frustrating.

I called Yamaha a few times and I can tell you that their support is not the best. OK, it was horrid. After multiple tries to reach them, I finally got someone who basically said the unit it so new that they need to pull up the manual. Someone was going to call me back with more info. That was a few days ago. Meanwhile, I figured it out by myself.

So I won’t go over all the features, you can see it on their website along with some great videos. I can tell you that it all works very well once the proper setup is complete. The amp is not as robust as my old Sony ES, but it works plenty fine for my application.

Bottom line? Great integration, Nice on TV screen UI, super feature set, easy to use. Setup – not so much. At $800 it’s a bit much, but they recently dropped the price to below $500. A very interesting hybrid device indeed!


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